Based on a model developed in the 1960s by researcher Everett Rogers, Technomic has found that consumers who are first to buy the latest technologies—from smartphones to social media apps—are also avid restaurant patrons. What this means is that early tech adopters—a group that is highly active in social media sites—may be the first to broadcast their opinions about the latest limited time offer or new restaurant concept.
Using a modern set of technology-adoption attributes in a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers, Technomic found that, when it comes to using cutting-edge tech products and websites, 8 percent and 15 percent of respondents can be described as “innovators” and “early adopters,” respectively. These leading-edge consumers also are big on restaurants, representing an important heavy user group.
- 83 percent of innovators and 72 percent of early adopters order from a fast food restaurant at least once a week, compared to 56 percent for consumers on average.
- Even more striking, 53 percent and 35 percent of innovators and early adopters, respectively, order from fast casual restaurants (e.g., Chipotle, Panera) at least once a week, compared to the average of 20 percent.
- The trend is also evident at food stores, with 25 percent of innovators and 20 percent of early adopters shopping at natural and specialty food stores (e.g., Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s) at least once a week, compared to the average of 10 percent.
Nearly double the share of those in both adoption groups (48 percent compared to 25 percent, on average) said that a restaurant's presence on a social network, such as a branded "fan" page on Facebook, positively influences their decision to try that restaurant.
“Restaurant chains are working hard to tap into the reach of social networks,” said Erik Thoresen, director of product innovation at Technomic, “but the opportunity is also sizeable for independent and regional chains that develop a strong local following among early adopters.”
Technomic will continue to explore behavior among early adopters in the second survey wave for its new Leveraging Social Media and Mobile Technologies Study. Report excerpts are available at www.technomic.com/social.